The Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes and the New York Rangers have already dismissed their head coaches, and a few other teams are expected to follow in the coming days.
The Seattle Kraken have yet to hire a head coach, and a few teams bound for the postseason face coaching questions as well. Rod Brind'Amour is in the last year of his contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, and Dominique Ducharme still has the interim tag with the Montreal Canadiens.
Certain coaches may have been afforded some leeway this season with multiple coronavirus outbreaks upending operations for a number of teams. The North Division in Canada has yet to finish up its slate because of a long shutdown with the Vancouver Canucks in March. But that won't affect the fates of some.
Will teams take chances on younger coaches or look outside of North America for unfamiliar faces? Ask any coach and they'll tell you this is a copycat league. They all trade power-play and penalty-kill systems, and the same group of head coaches and general managers are generally recycled year after year.
Most likely, there will be a mix of new and old. So, let's take a look at the 15 teams that will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs, two playoff-bound teams, and the expansion Seattle Kraken to try to predict who will be behind the benches next season. We'll go division by division, using the 2021 alignment.
Dallas Stars (2020-21 coach: Rick Bowness, 2021-22 coach: Rick Bowness)
The 2020 Western Conference champs never had a chance to succeed. They were unable to start the season on time because of a COVID-19 outbreak, and they lost several top players to injuries, including top-line center Tyler Seguin, No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop and forward Alexander Radulov and defenseman Stephen Johns.
The Stars' disappointing finish is no reason to get rid of Bowness, but how long will his leash be next season? Dallas' American Hockey League affiliate in Austin is coached by Neil Graham, who many believe to be a coach in waiting. With a new group of young players such as Ty Dellandrea and Thomas Harley nearly ready for NHL action, it might benefit the Stars to have a familiar presence behind their NHL bench.
But for now, Bowness is still their guy.
Detroit Red Wings (2020-21 coach: Jeff Blashill, 2021-22 coach: Jeff Blashill)
Blashill has one more year left on his contract, and the Red Wings are still in the midst of an arduous rebuild, so there is little incentive to look to anyone else right now. Still, it wouldn't be surprising if general manager Steve Yzerman decided to fire him.
Blashill was extended by Ken Holland, not Yzerman, and there has been little development over the past few seasons. But the lineup was depleted because of injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak, so Blashill might get a pass for a 19-27-10 season and be able to coach out the rest of his contract.
Chicago Blackhawks (2020-21 coach: Jeremy Colliton, 2021-22 coach: Jeremy Colliton)
The Blackhawks made things competitive in the Central Division, but not having captain Jonathan Toews hurt, and Kirby Dach was only available for 18 games.
This was a strange, in-between year for Chicago, with old-guard veterans from the dynasty days in Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw retired and younger players in Dach and Adam Boqvist ushering in a new era. The Blackhawks have made strides under Colliton. He is probably safe.
Columbus Blue Jackets (2020-21 coach: John Tortorella, 2021-22 coach: Mike Vellucci)
The Blue Jackets and Tortorella "mutually parted ways" Monday morning after a disappointing season. The belief in the industry is that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is going to look to more of a players' coach.
Mike Vellucci, currently an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins, has that reputation. He also comes with a winning reputation, having won as a junior coach in the Ontario Hockey League and in the AHL, guiding the Charlotte Checkers to the 2019 Calder Cup Championship.
The Blue Jackets paid Tortorella $2.5 million per year, which is below the market for the top coaches in the league, so an up-and-coming coach like Vellucci might be a more realistic target than a big name like Gerard Gallant.